CUPCAKE 101 – THE ART OF CUPCAKES

Basics

Cupcakes are quite a diverse little treat that can be served anywhere at any time. Choosing the right cupcake for the occasion is also something to consider.

 

For instance, if you have little girls coming over for a tea party, you may want to consider the smaller version for their little hands. Plus, the sugar intake is a bit lower on the small ones as well. With the decorating side of it, anything goes.

 

You can add sliced strawberries, whole blueberries, whole blackberries, sugared candies, cookies or sprinkles to the top, to make them more fun for everyone.

 

You can also add a flavor inside the cupcake. One little known secret to do this is to use an apple corer to take the center out, add your fresh fruit or sauce to the top of the hole, and then add the icing on top.

 

There are just so many different things you can do, the sky is the limit!

 

Always remember, you can flavor your cupcakes to anything you like, and do the same with the frosting. That all depends on your taste and the occasion for which you are preparing them.

 

As I said above, when changing the color of the icing, it is suggested to use the gel coloring instead of the liquid. This won’t break the frosting down and will be easy to mix in.

 

People these days usually make their cupcakes from box cake mix, as this is a lot quicker and much simpler to do. Betty Crocker and Ducan Hines have great flavors, many to choose from and fantastic icing to go on top. 

 

There are different directions on the boxes for cupcakes, so be sure to read it all the way through. These days, cupcakes are pre-made and sold in pretty much any store you go to for groceries. 

 

What happens if you want to try to make some from scratch?  Making them from scratch can be just as fun as decorating them when they are done baking.  Great family memories that last a lifetime are made, bonding takes place and the experience is unforgettable for those joining in.

Art of Cupcake Making

The perfect cupcake comes in different shapes and sizes, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.  There are a few different sizes that people usually use; the regular size, which is about a cup size and then there are the mini cupcakes that have also come about, and a perfect snack sized bites for little mouths, then there are those of us that like to make GIANT cupcakes. Whatever the occasion, you will have the perfect dessert.

 

When getting ready to bake anything, I have found it most helpful to get all the ingredients out, measured and set aside for easy access.  Nothing is worse than trying to measure things out and have a mess of ingredients all over the place.  Clean as you go is another rule of thumb that I like to go by.  No reason to leave the mess laying around when you can wipe it up in a snap.                                                                                      

Once the cupcakes are done baking, this is what they should look like.  You can see they rose just a little above the cake paper but not too much. These are perfectly baked and ready to decorate.  Placing them on a cooling rack is the best way to make sure they are fully cooled off.  You can do this once they are out of the oven for about 5-10 minutes. Although they are in paper cups, they are still very warm. Taking them out too soon could result in the cake breaking and making it very difficult to put back together for adding the icing. If you have a set of tongs, I would highly recommend using them to get them out of the baking pan. This will save the cakes and your fingers all at the same time!

 

We have evolved quite a bit from 1796 and 1828, as far as baking goes.  I honestly don’t know that I would have been able to bake things like they did back then. It’s hard in this age, sometimes, to get things right, so not having an actual recipe to use, and “winging it” for the amounts of ingredients is something I find interesting. I do know I come from a long line of bakers in my family, and there are times I add this or that to a recipe, go by taste and hope for the best. For the most part, it’s turned out rather well; then there are some things I will never do again!  As for the cupcake, I believe this was an excellent idea way back in the day and it’s only gotten better with age.  So many choices now, different flavors and lots of decorating ideas, one can’t go wrong if serving these wonderful little treats at a gathering.  I honestly prefer a cupcake to an actual cake because there is less waste in the end. Cupcakes can also be frozen if needed. I wouldn’t freeze the icing, but the cakes freeze beautifully. The icing recipe is so easy and quick to make, it could be done in a matter of about 10 minutes.

 

The invention of the cupcake goes back hundreds of years and yet it still remains one of the best desserts at any party. They are beautiful, they are fun and they are delicious!! There are recipes made from scratch, but keep in mind, you can use any box cake you desire. This is the fastest way, besides buying them already done.

 

What is so important about the ingredients that go in to a cupcake, when they are being made from scratch? Well, let’s take a look and find out.

Ingredients & How They Contribute to Your Cupcakes

Things to Avoid When Making Cupcakes

  1.  Don’t fill the cups up to the very top of the paper. Doing this will cause the cake to over-flow and cause a lot more headaches than a person would care to deal with. The best option is fill to 2/3 of the way. This allows the cake to bake correctly, evenly and actually looks like a cupcake.

  2. Avoid frost your cakes before they are cooled off. If you don’t allow at least an hour, the frosting will melt all over and the cakes will be very difficult to fix.

  3. Wait to add fruit toppings until you are ready to serve. Any type of toppers, like canned cherries or apples, should be the very last thing that is put on top before serving your guests.  If they are added too soon, they drip down the cakes and make a terrible mess that is very hard to come back from.

    Sprinkles and things along those lines are fine to add ahead of time, but the loose toppings have to wait until the very last moment. You also want to avoid adding too much of the toppings because it can weigh too heavily on the top and cause everything to fall.

Making cupcakes is an art yet it’s very doable.  The most important thing you can do is to make sure ALL the ingredients are measured exactly as they are written. 

Too much or too little of something will throw the entire recipe off.  Remember, you can use substitutes for your ingredients, such as a sugar substitute for diabetic cakes, just be sure to double check the amounts of what you are using.

 

Experiment and try different things out. What works for one person may not work as well for you. It’s ok! Just keep going and see what you like the best and go from there.

 

Above all, just have fun! This doesn’t have to be stressful and it sure doesn’t have to be difficult. Come up with some great ideas on your own, try them out on family members, get some feedback and go from there. Nothing in this world made it the first time.

 

It takes patience, work and a lot of brain storming, but it always works out in the end. Choose something you like and go from there. Making cupcakes can become a family tradition and hold many wonderful memories through the years.

 

Each season can have its own cupcakes, different colors, different tastes and a lot of decoration.  Inventing new ideas is part of the fun in making them.  Now, get started on your baking!

Try it today: Cupcakes & Frosting From Scratch

Below is a typical cupcake recipe that can be used if you are doing these from scratch.

 

First, always set the oven to 350 so it’s ready to pop the cupcakes in as soon as you are done preparing them for baking. If you are using a dark pan or non-stick pan, reduce the heat to 325, so the cupcakes don’t over-bake or burn.

Cupcakes from scratch: (Makes about 24 regular cupcakes – 48 if they are the mini ones)

  • 6 Cups of flour (sifted)                                                   
  • 8 Eggs
  • 4 Cups of sugar (fine grain)                                          
  • 4 tsp of baking powder (so cupcakes rise)
  • 2 Cup of butter                                                              
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups of milk                                                        
  • 2 TBSP of vanilla (you can use different flavors if you so choose, and/or food coloring)

Note :  Mix the flour and sugar together, add the baking powder and salt.  Cream together the butter, milk, eggs and flavoring until light and fluffy.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. The batter will be “cake-like” so don’t panic.  Put the cupcake wrappers, if you have them, on the pan (or in the muffin spots). If you don’t have a muffin pan, that is perfectly fine, you can still set up the cups and pour the mixture in to them. Separate them about an inch apart.  Use a medium sized measuring cup for regular sized cupcakes and a ¼ cup for the smaller ones. Only fill the cups up half way or 2/3 of the paper cup; if they are completely full of batter before baking they will run over the top, which results in cupcakes that are misshapen and very difficult to fix and usually flat . We don’t want that to happen. They need to stay inside the cup for easy decorating. Once you have filled all the cups up, put them in the oven on the top shelf, for 25 – 30 minutes.  You will be able to check if they are done by sticking a toothpick in the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, they are done. If the toothpick still has a little batter on it, leaving them in for 1-2 minutes more. Once they are done, pull them out and let them cool (in the pan) for about 30 minutes before you attempt to pull them from the pan. You want to be sure they are completely cooled off before you attempt to put any frosting on them, as it will melt and run all over the place if they aren’t cooled.

 

Frosting from scratch:

Frosting from scratch:  https://natashaskitchen.com/cupcake-frosting-recipe/ 

 

Natasha’s Kitchen has, by far, the BEST and easiest cupcake frosting recipe I have ever tried!  The taste is amazing, it’s quick, it sets up fantastic and it’s very easy to work with!  This particular recipe is enough for about 24 cupcakes, so it’s perfect for the recipe above. 

 

8 oz cream cheese (room temperature and cut in to slices for easy mixing)

 

2 cups of confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar-chilled so it doesn’t fly all over when mixing)

 

1 ½ cups of HEAVY whipping cream (chilled)

 

1 tsp of vanilla (or other flavor of your choosing)

 

Whip the heavy cream for about 1-2 minutes, until it’s thick, fluffy and easy to spread.  In another mixing bowl, (using a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and powder sugar. Make sure to start out slow with the mixing because going at full speed will have a mess of powdered sugar all over the kitchen and you. Add the flavoring you chose for the icing and mix it for about a minute more. Once you are done, you will take the heavy cream/cream cheese mixture and FOLD it in to this mixture. Mix it well. That’s it! You are done with your frosting and you should probably keep it chilled until you are ready to decorate your cupcakes. This frosting is the classic white, and can be used for anything, including regular cakes! If you want to change the color, it is suggested on the website that a gel be used instead of the liquid. The liquid could break down the consistency of the frosting and not set up as well. Usually, this frosting is put in to a frosting bag and ready to pipe on the tops, but if you don’t have an icing back, you can use a large plastic food storage back or freezer bag. Just cut a corner off but don’t make it too big or the tip will fall through; push your frosting tip down to the cut corner and add your frosting. Once you have enough in the bag for decorating, simply twist the top of the bag to push the icing down. Do a small push on a paper towel to get rid of any excess air in the bag. There is nothing worse than an air pocket when you are decorating with icing. It never turns out well. Keep twisting the bag as you decorate, keeping all possible air pockets from forming.  Refill the bag once you get about ¾ of the way down. Remember to push some icing on the paper towel for more air pockets.

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